Carnival passengers upset because ships sail despite Hurricane Irma

Passengers are told board or lose money

TAMPA - Despite Hurricane Irma being a category five storm, Carnival cruise ships departed today for destinations in the Caribbean.

And our I-Team has learned, those who didn’t show up to board, were told they won't be getting their money back. 

Tampa's Carnival cruise terminal is normally a happy place, but it wasn’t completely today. 

“They really don't care if we're happy or not,” said passenger Natalie Cochane, who had booked a trip to Cuba on the Carnival Paradise. 

“We were thinking that they would tell us two days ago that we could stay home and not stress. But here we are, trying to figure out if we're going to Cuba or not today,” she said. 

Emails arrived this morning, telling passengers their trip was a "go". 
“They're still gonna cruise like they said. And they may change the itinerary and go somewhere other than Cuba,” said Betsy Gaines, a travel agent from North Carolina.

She stressed that Carnival did not offer them to option of a refund. 

Dana Mims flew in from California for the cruise.

She says she's not worried about possible stormy seas. 

“I don't get seasick, so that doesn't bother me. As long as we're moving away from the hurricane, I should be ok,” Mims said.  

But those passengers are actually headed close to the storm’s projected path, in Havana,Cuba. 

“My wife and I turned 30 and it was a gift from family as well as half or our money,” said Chris Zipeto. 

Chris and Rachel Zipeto were booked on a Carnival cruise leaving Miami today, but had to stay home. 

He's a paramedic first responder and she's a nurse.

Both are now assigned to work, but Carnival wouldn't give them a refund.

“For them to just treat us like ‘well, just get on the ship or lose your money’, it's outrageous,” Chris Zipeto said. “We told them I was a firefighter and they said well sorry.” 

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, cruise ships were kept at sea for days because it wasn't safe to return. 

The Zipetos worry that might happen in Miami, where Carnival closed its own headquarters today. 

“Why would you endanger people's lives like that when you know that it's coming?  And they said it's just business,” said Rachel Zipeto. 

Carnival did offer credit toward a future cruise to those passengers who showed up to board the Carnival Paradise in Tampa today, if they chose to leave over fears for their own safety.

Passengers told us several dozen passengers chose to leave the ship after learning it would still be going to Cuba.

Carnival rescheduled several cruises that depart from Florida later this week. 

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